Thursday, June 14, 2018
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
This passage is often used to focus on the answer given to the question, “Should we keep on sinning?” The answer? “Of course not” or “God forbid.” Perhaps the other side has been given before, but from 1957 to about 2000 I could not see it. What is the “other side”?
Paul is not saying that Christians are cut off from God’s fellowship if they commit sin after receiving “newness of life” (v.6). He is not saying we must retain sinlessness to receive God’s “wonderful grace.” He is referring to those who believe they can make sin their way of life because God’s grace is sufficient to cover them. Yet, there is a reason for that thought to lodge in their cranium. That is the misapplication Paul is addressing.
For too many years I believed one sin caused the Christian to lose his salvation. How can God fellowship someone who is in sin? He can’t. Since he cannot be put in that position, what happens to the sinner? Our answer was, “He must be put outside of Jesus’ saved body because sin would taint that body and make Jesus guilty of fellowshipping our sin. Therefore, the put out one loses his salvation and is cut off from God’s grace”! Sounds reasonable when you leave God and the cross out of the picture. Some continue to do that.
Is Paul saying God’s grace is insufficient to cover our sins? We are sometimes told that God’s grace only covers the ones in Christ who do not sin. Sin and you get acquainted with the kingdom of darkness again and become a child of hell? Wouldn’t that view rob Christianity of all assurance, peace, and joy, and replace it with uncertainty, disappointment, and fear? If the last three items are correct aren’t we saddled with a religion of doubts and hopelessness? Wouldn’t our response to the question, “Do you believe you are saved?” be, “I hope so, but I don’t know”? When would that person have the certainty that he was saved? He believes he must wait until the judgment to find out! It all depends upon his status when he dies. If that person has hope, it is the hope that he doesn’t die without a prayer of repentance on his life. Such a position leaves a person wondering if he will be saved. If the Lord says, “Well done,” it will be a shock. An honest person with such a view feels hopeless because regardless of how much he does, one slip at the wrong time will condemn him forever!
When such a doctrine has been fed to the flock for generations, it is almost impossible to correctly understand God’s grace! We are prisoners to a doctrine that implies doing the very best we can always as our only key to entering heaven. Grace becomes a “gap insurance policy” to be applied at the judgment to make up for our imperfection. The gospel becomes, “Once saved, never saved until the judgment.” If that is the gospel, wasn’t Paul experiencing delusions when writing to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:8)? How can you know you are going to be saved when you don’t know if God’s grace is sufficient to cover your gap?
Paul had already informed the Romans saints that they are sinners (Romans 3:10,23). Rising from the waters of baptism does not make us perfectionists. We will sin. Some less, some more. The misguided are those who believe their sins receive a passing grade whereas yours do not! If we sin, how can we remain in fellowship with God who knows no sin? The answer to that question is often ignored.
Paul is telling the saints that just because grace covers their sins, they should not make sinning their full-time job. He clearly explains later in this very chapter what he is talking about. Sin is not to “reign” us (6:12) or have “dominion over” us (6:14) or keep us in slavery (6:17-18). We are free from sin’s dominion or domination over us because in Christ we are continually cleansed and forgiven, but we are never free from sin’s presence in our lives as long as we are in this “body of death” (Rom. 7:12-25). They could have thought God was giving them a license to sin as much as they desired because He would provide them with their “get out of jail free card”! Peter warned, “For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” (1 Peter 2:16). That’s Paul’s message to the Romans.
I recently read the following comment which is helpful in our consideration of Romans 6:1-2,
“There is much more grace extended to us than we will ever need or use. Grace flows to us like the water at Niagara Falls. There is always much more than we could possibly need or use up, and always much more to follow. . . .God wants to save us much more than we want to be saved. He is much more willing to save us than we are willing to sin – which says a lot.”
When we sin, Jesus’ blood cleanses us. His blood acts immediately, continually, and without failure (1 John 1:7-9). It is not on a timer. Because of that immediate, continual cleansing, God’s holiness is not violated since Jesus’ blood covers and cleanses. Before Romans 6, Paul quoted from the Old Testament in making this statement, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Romans 4:8; Psalm 32:1-2, Emphasis, mine RH). We need to soak that passage in because it says something which we have failed to understand! In Christ, God never counts our trespasses against us (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
If you have been added to the saved by the Father, you are dead to sin. Sins are not counted against you. Since you do not lose fellowship with the Father due to the cleansing power of Jesus blood, you may rejoice! I’ll repeat myself, you are dead to sin. God’s payment to you is “eternal life”! Where? “In Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)! Notice, Paul did not say you have to wait until your get to “heaven” to receive it. He told the Romans 2,000 years ago that it was “in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Those who have the Son have eternal life (1 Jn. 5:11-3, 20). That’s yours when you enter the body of Christ (Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Corinthians 12:27). You aren’t forced to become a Christian. That is your choice. You are not forced to remain in Christ Jesus. That is also your choice. But, for those who put their trust in Jesus and the saving power of his blood, we are dead to sin. There is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
THAT is Good News for all who are IN Christ Jesus.